Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday's Super Site

You've probably heard this a million places, but it's still true: Writing is a lonely business. Finding a group of people to connect with can make it less lonely, though, and that's where this week's Super Site comes in.

I know I've blogged about MamaWriters before, but that was early on in its life. It was a great new site to visit. It's lived up to its promise. Now it has a more settled feel. Both the posts and the comments are excellent sources of information, as well as offering a little camaraderie to its visitors.

Originally I followed Roxanne St. Claire over from a post she wrote for Murder She Writes. I stayed because MamaWriters is a lovely little community of writers who also happen to be parents. (Or parents who also happen to be writers - which ever way you want to look at it. For me, it depends on the day.) Since I just happen to be one of those WriMoms - or MoWrits (sounds like Lewis Carroll, don't it?) - I thought I'd give it a looksee.

Since I started visiting, they've also been visited by Monica McCarty and Allison Brennan, but their guest bloggers are only a fraction of the value. In MamaWriters, I've found a group of people who have something in common with me. Sure, we all have different circumstances - I was a working single mom of one for 11 years, and now I'm a SAHM with a husband. I still only have the one, and she's pretty self-sufficient, but I see how the other moms do it, and I can provide my own experiences in the comments.

And for those of you who write sans kids, there are still plenty of interesting posts. It's not a 'you don't have kids, so go away' type of place. The posts about trying to write while doing everything else in your life are certainly applicable to all us writers - kids or no. Like I said, my daughter is at the point where she doesn't need - or want - me around all the time. But I still find value.

After all, that's really the point of a Saturday Super Site - finding value and sharing it with my readers.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the site. Tell me, what are some things you look for when trying to connect with other writers? Is it genre or writing style? Or do you find a connection some other way?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Weekly Update

It's been a strange few weeks for my writing. I think I'm just trying to find my way again. (Funny how often I get lost out here in writerland.) After several failed attempts, and more than a few battles with angst, I think I'm back on track.

This week, I rewrote the beginning of EQ - and changed its name to Unequal. I really like the new direction I took it. It was veering into too YA, and the voice was coming out kind of 'like ya know'. Now it feels more like me. I'm still not sure exactly where the story is headed, but I'm enjoying the journey.

Except that after writing 2000 words of new beginning for Unequal, it got pushed aside. Fertile Ground crawled up from my subconscious and kicked me in the ass. I saw where I needed to go, and what I needed to do. From that, I got another 3000 words out, and the direction feels so much more right than before.

I also shot out a couple more queries since last Friday, and HUZZAH, I got a request for partial. Love it when that happens. Now the waiting game begins again. (Not that I wasn't still waiting on that full I sent last month, but the other partial came back as a rejection.)

Add to that the fact that I've been reading more, and the week is chock full of goodness. Here's hoping the coming week brings even more. Nano is still stacked on top of my printer, dripping red ink and waiting for me to complete the surgery to save its life. (Drama queen much?)

On the personal front, yesterday was the official last day of the school year. Monday we start eleventh grade with a fun jaunt into summer school. Since we're unsure exactly which college she's headed for, we're trying to meet the requirements of every college she's interested in - which means making sure she has the right number of credits in each subject. With two years left of school, we're on track for everything except the Social Studies and the Fine Arts. Hence this summer school term, wherein we'll be doing either a fine art or Psychology. (I'm voting for Psych, since I spent my first three semesters in college as a Psych major.) Fun fun fun.

How are things with you?

Thursday, May 28, 2009


If you haven't seen it yet, please check out Advanced Cat Yodeling. It's quite possibly the funniest thing I've ever seen.

I just finished watching it again, and I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. Seriously.

And my husband's sitting at his computer laughing at me.

It's that funny.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Picture Pause

Since I'm wrapped up in my own private writing world right now, I thought I'd share another picture from my extensive wanderings. Today's shot is from Easter 2003, and the impromptu trip we took to Arches National Park. (Amazing how empty a national park can be on a major holiday. It was great.)

I don't remember what this rock formation was called - mainly because I forgot (again) to label the pictures while the names were still fresh in my head.

All in all it was a beautiful day with plenty of incredible scenery. If you've never been to Arches, I highly recommend it. Makes me wish I'd taken the time to visit Canyonlands while I still lived in Utah. C'est la vie.

Anyway, enjoy the picture while I go write something. Last night I spent some time on the new incarnation of EQ, but tonight I'm almost jones'n to get back to Fertile Ground. The next scene is right there on my frontal lobe, and I'd better grab it before it disappears.

Have a great night, folks.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rain Rain Go Away

For being in the high desert, it sure has rained a lot lately. It's been raining since Friday, and it's not looking like it's going to stop any time soon. I keep expecting to see a bearded guy leading animals two by two. I mean, criminitly.

The running joke at the Sanderson household is: "We need the moisture." It's just something everyone around here seems to say any time we get rain or snow or hail. I guess it's the local way of looking on the bright side of bad weather. Me? I'm just tired of the constant dripping. I need to see the sun.

Personally, I liked the arrangement in Tallahassee. Most days we had sunny mornings and rainy afternoons. It's a nice split. (Of course those few afternoons when it didn't rain, we wished it would since no rain = high humidity.)

How about you? Do you need the moisture? Want some of ours?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Reading Holiday

Yeah, yeah, I should've used this 3-day opportunity to write, but I couldn't help myself. Instead of filling pages with my own words, I've been reading. Book after glorious book. Hehehe. It's been wonderful, so I refuse to feel guilty about it. (Well, not too much anyway.)

Have I mentioned how much I love books? I'd roll around in them naked if I didn't fear damaging their covers in some way.

So here's the tally so far:
Friday night to Saturday morning: Fatal Secrets
Saturday morning to Saturday night: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Saturday night until just now: Beyond Varallan (Lynn Viehl is a friggin' genius, by the way.)

I'd start on my next new book, but it's in the bedroom with my sleeping hubby. (He's on a weird schedule right now.) :shrug: I should probably give my eyes a break anyway. But Highland Warrior is calling me... WAIT. I think my kid has that one. Heh. If she's finished, I can start it now. If not, I can stand over her making disgusted noises until she finishes. (Not really. I'm not that wicked.)

Anyway, with the completion of Beyond Varallan, I'm at 39 books read for the year. Not bad, all things considered. At this rate, I'll be over my numbers for last year. Yay. Of course, I read a lot more during the first two months of the year than the following three, but sometimes life hits you that way.

For links to everything I've read this year, check out my post: 2009 Books Read. There've been some good ones so far this year. And there are a lot more I haven't had a chance to buy yet. (Like Karin Tabke's Master of Craving which is supposed to hit shelves this week, but from all acounts is already out there.)

Read any good books this year? I'm always looking for recommendations. Do you have any reading goals to share? The only one I ever have is to read as many books as my schedule and my eyes allow.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Book Review

As I've lamented before, getting new books around here is a pain and I'm not much for online ordering (paying $4 extra for shipping tweaks my miserly behind). So imagine my surprise when I trolled the local store's book section and found the new Allison Brennan - Fatal Secrets. I snatched that puppy up and zoomed straight to the checkout.

Like with any book by Allison Brennan, I was rabid to read it. As soon as I got home, I yanked the bookmark - a really nifty one I got when I bought The Last Olympian, btw - out of a book I'd just started and settled down for a day's worth of reading. I started around lunch Friday and I finished yesterday morning.

Allison nailed it. Again. From page one, she sucked me in.

With Fatal Secrets, Allison has written her best novel yet. (Not an easy thing to do, since they've all been so damn good.) Not giving anything away - which you know I hate - I'll just say that once again Allison has given her readers a fast-paced novel with deeply sympathetic characters and truly vile villains. Her bad guys are deliciously evil, and they're unapologetic about it. Her good guys are heroic, but human, and they get the job done - no matter what reasons they may have for running the other way.

Additionally, with this story, she provided insights into the horrors of human trafficking without beating me over the head with the 'human interest angle' of the issue. (I've said it before, and I'll probably end up saying it again: You can weave philosophy into a suspense novel without turning it into a tract.) Bad things happen to good people, and I love how Allison uses the horrific events in her characters' pasts to make them stronger. Brilliant.

Anyway, before I turn this into an Allison Brennan love-fest, I'll just leave you with the gentle nudge to go buy Fatal Secrets. It hit shelves last Tuesday, so what are you waiting for? There really isn't a better way to spend Memorial Day than reading. Is there?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday's Super Site

Edittorrent came to my attention through, I believe, agent Janet Reid's blog. I've only been visiting for a couple months, but I've made it a daily stop on my blogroll.

From their profile: "We're two editors who agree except when we disagree. Between us, we have edited novels, novellas, non-fiction, short stories, computer manuals, legal briefs, advertising copy, educational text, newspaper articles-- everything. Now we work as acquisition editors for a publisher of fiction of various lengths."

So far, these gals seem to go the extra mile helping writers to perfect their pitches, and better their skills. They host regular logline sessions, wherein a writer sends their pitch and the editors as well as commenters assist in honing the pitch to a razor-sharp edge.

All in all, a good blog to visit, but one post in particular jumped out to make Edittorrent this week's Super Site. Editor Alicia wrote about Voice Thoughts - World View, and I had a total AHA! moment. (As evidenced by my comment on that post.) She explained voice in a way I'd never thought of, and for once, the idea of 'voice' totally made sense to me.

So, if you're in the mood for some gritty and witty advice from two gals in the editing sector, stop on by. Maybe I'll see you in the comments - I know you'll probably see me there from time to time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Weekly Update, etc.

I haven't written a damn thing this week. I did some editing on the weekend, but nothing major. What I did do was sit down to iron out a few things on Fertile Ground. And I wrestled with the real reason I write.

Part of the impetus for the wrestling match was a rejection I received. It was a nice rejection off a partial. She even welcomed me to send her my next project because she likes my voice. But it got me thinking once again about why I'm doing this. I feel like I lost sight of the initial reason I started writing in the first place.

Five years ago - well twenty-five really - I understood that I have stories inside me I need to tell. When I first started, that was all that mattered. I had a story idea, and I needed to make it more than just a bit of whimsy at the back of my head. I needed to put it on paper, to flesh it into a whole book, to give the characters their voice and see the whole thing live outside my neurons.

Everyone told me I was nuts. The few people I shared my premise with told me it wouldn't fly. It was crazy, and improbable, and one person even went so far as to email me proof of why my premise was lame. And then I showed the first five chapters to a new person - a guy I'd just started talking to online. He didn't give a rip about the improbable premise. He just loved the writing, and told me that writing was something I needed to do with the rest of my life. (I married him four months later, btw.)

Anyway, the point... Five years ago, I didn't give two hoots in hell what anyone thought or was going to think about my writing. I knew in my heart I was a writer, and even if that brilliant guy had told me I was nuts, I would've still written. (Probably wouldn't have married a man who was that short-sighted, but Spectacle still would've been written.) I don't know when that changed, but somewhere along the way, I got too wrapped up in writing what I thought people would want to read, and lost sight of writing what I wanted to write.

I mean, if I was under contract, I could see writing what I was being paid to write, but I'm not. I should be able to write whatever I want, and *snap* for what anyone else wants. I wanted to write a novel about what happens when fear takes over a nation, and I did it. I wanted to write a book about what happens when mankind allows nature to take precedence over human life, and I did it. I wanted to write about a future where abortion is a capital crime, and I wanted to write about a future ruled by socialism. So far no one (outside my circle of betas) has wanted to read them, but I'm proud of them all.

Writing this right now, I just had an epiphany. It's hard to explain, but here goes... it's not so much that I was writing things I don't want to write because I think they're things people would buy. It's that I thought that's what I was doing. The feeling I was selling out was killing me more than the actual selling out. (If that makes any sense.)

I really did want to write a suspense that centered around a psycho trophy wife, and I really want to finish this other suspense with the serial rapist intent on populating the world with his genes. I still want to see my funny PI series get published, and even the dark mystery in the small town that I never quite finished editing.

And that's okay. It's okay to want to write whatever, and it's okay to want them to get published. It's also okay if they never do. As long as when I type THE END (something I hesitate to do until the final draft), I can be stand up and say "I wrote this" and be proud of the fact.

I may never be published. I have to learn to accept that. I have to stop chasing the dream of publication like it's the be-all and end-all of writing. I have to just write, and let everything else figure itself out later. Because if I don't, each successive book will be crappier than the last until I hate myself and my writing and everything associated with this endeavor.

Sorry. I didn't mean to turn today's post into a forever vent. Sometimes it's just cathartic to write it all out. Thanks for reading down this far and joining me in my madness.

I don't know what the future will bring. This weekend, I'll be trying to work on the edits for Nano. Next week I may be back to work on Fertile Ground, or I might shift to EQ or one of the other stories that are waiting to be written. (Including the new SF piece I dreamed up the other night - literally.) Bear with me.

And if you've ever been in the same boat, commiserate in the comments.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Picture Pause

I took this somewhere outside Las Vegas, May 2003. I don't really remember where, since we did a lot of driving around outside the city that trip. I'm guessing this is southeast of the city. I really should've spent more time labeling pictures.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Motivational Message from Super Writermom

Super Writermom* says:

*Darling Daughter's name for the above super hero. :shrug: It works to motivate me and her at the same time. ;o)


Does this picture make me look fat?

Thanks to Lynn Viehl, I spent about an hour turning myself into a Lego person via the Reasonably Clever Mini-Mizer*.

It's just as well. I haven't been working the past few days, so I might as well do something reasonably clever. The cup is right. I'm in editing hell. I'm also in writing hell. Hence the need for caffeine and nicotine.

You may have noticed one of my meters disappeared. I'm not sure what other project I'm actually working on right now. Over the past week, I've worked on EQ and reconsidered working on FG, and even thought about going back to an older unfinished novel. Since I don't want to change meters every few days, I'll just leave the second one off until I make a decision.

Until I figure everything out, I'll just edit Nano.

And here's Darling Daughter, off to do battle with schoolwork...

*If you 'mini-mize' yourself, let me know. I'd love to see what the Lego-you would look like. =o)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Entitled to Feedback?

First off, let me say....

Happy Birthday to Me!

Now for the rest of the post...

It's been an interesting weekend in the blogosphere. So many thought-provoking posts were written that I want to write about, and now I'm now torn on what to talk about here today. I guess the best thing to do is to begin at the beginning and do a post each day until I've written myself out.

Friday night esteemed agent Jennifer Jackson wrote a post during her weekly Letters from the Query Wars, which basically addressed the entitlement mentality some writers have. In it, she leapfrog's off a Neil Gaiman post where he takes issue with the same mentality in readers. It seems some readers feel like they're entitled to the next book in the series, and they want it NOW. Likewise, some writers feel like they're entitled to a lenghty response to their query letters. Both sets of people get pissy when their entitlements aren't met.

I'd go on to talk about the growing entitlement mentality in America, but that would take too long and end up in a full-blown rant. Needless to say, it all stems from the same basic flawed premises (see the comment made by siebendach - whoever he/she is, they said what I was thinking). But let's not go there.

Instead let's think about what we are entitled to as queriers. The answer, though some people may not like it, is nothing. We send our little letters off, and no matter how hard we've worked on them or how much blood we've put into our novels, agents don't owe us a damned thing. A response would be nice. Some comments about what they liked or didn't like would be wonderful. But we aren't entitled to them.

Or if you want to look at it from the reader standpoint... Readers get a little more actual entitlement because they paid good money for the book, but what they're entitled to still falls way short of the things some people believe they deserve. A reader is entitled to have a well-written book in exchange for his time and money. That's it. One book per entitlement, please. He isn't entitled to the next book, or to a slew of blog posts, or a friendship via email, or even a friggin bookmark. He's not entitled to an autograph or an inscription - although some authors choose to do so.

Think about the difference there. Queriers have nothing to base their entitlement on. In the scheme of things, they have nothing of value to balance. Maybe after a full or partial, they have the future potential of becoming a client, so it might behoove an agent to provide feedback, but at the early stage, they don't even have that. Readers at least have cash to put up on the other side of the equation.

If a reader buys a book, and it fails to provide what its half of the trade, then the reader can withhold his money from future books by that author. If enough readers decide they didn't get what they deserved (i.e. a good book), the next book's sales will falter and the author eventually fades into obscurity.

If a writer sends a query and doesn't get feedback, they can withhold future queries, but that's like cutting off your nose to spite your face. A published author needs money. An agent doesn't need your query. In fact, they'll never miss your query if you choose to snub them. They get thousands every year. Your missing query might give them a couple extra minutes to read the next query and sign that author.

In a way, it's sad to see this growing entitlement mentality hit here. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but stuff like this always catches me unawares. I never would've assumed I was entitled to feedback, just like I never assume I'm entitled to the next book by an author. I'm dying for the next Lords of the Underworld from Gena Showalter, and I may joke about her hurrying up because I'm DYING, but I would never presume to berate her for whatever length of time writing that book will take.

Sure, it would be nice if we always get what we wanted when we wanted it, but you know the old saying: People in Hell what icewater, but it doesn't mean they're going to get it. I want the agent who's had my full for a year to respond and tell me my manuscript got lost behind a desk while she was away, and would I please forgive her for ignoring my future bestseller.

Icewater anyone?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Book Review

I’m ba-ack. Are you ready for the evil return of Darling Daughter?

As part and parcel of the whole academic achievement thing (which I believe Mom mentioned in an earlier post), I have taken it upon myself to write today’s Sunday Book Review.

Today’s review isn’t about one book, it’s about four, the Paladin series by Alexis Morgan. I absolutely love this series. You’ve got your typical dark, brooding heroes and smart, take-no-prisoners women, plus an evil plot to destroy the world (kinda), earthquakes, and a lot of blow-‘em-up, cut-‘em-open action.

In the first book, Dark Protector, Paladin Devlin Bane falls for his Handler Dr. Laurel Young. Handlers are the doctors that bring Paladins back from the dead and monitor their slow descent into madness. Romance between Handlers and Paladins is (of course) strictly forbidden.

In Dark Defender, Paladin Blake Trahern finds his soul mate in his childhood friend Brenna Nichols, while helping to solve her fathers murder. Brenna’s dad is also a Regent, sort of the top dogs in the whole Paladin organization.

In Darkness Reborn and Redeemed in Darkness (noticing a theme with the titles?) shake it up a little. In the first, you’ve got an Other (the evil enemies of the Paladins) named Barak q’Young falling in love with a Paladin’s sister, Lacey Sebastian. In the latter, Cullen Farley (Paladin) finds himself in love with Barak’s sister, Lusahn q’Arc, and her two adopted kids, Bavi and Shiri.

Through out the four books, a plot is uncovered to con Others into giving humans these crystals that generate energy. The kicker is that it’s corrupt members of the Paladins society that created the plot.

Book five, Darkness Unknown, came out at the beginning of the year but I still haven’t read it yet. No worries though, since I’m sure it’s just as good as the first four.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s book review, brought to you by Darling Daughter. I’m know that any fan of paranormal romance is gonna love this series by Alexis Morgan, as well as her other one the Talions series.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday's Super Site

This weekend is all about food. (Okay, every weekend is about food, but I'm working on that aspect of my life.) Since tomorrow and Monday are basically holidays for me, I thought I would do a little baking and maybe a little gourmet creation here and there.

Which brings me around to this week's Super Site. I love to cook, and I love to try new recipes, which makes a necessity for me. They have everything from soup to nuts - literally.

I especially love the site when I have one ingredient and want to do something new with it. Like the last time pork roast was on sale. I know how to deal with pork roast, but I wanted something different. What I found was 173 different recipes when searching for 'pork roast', and between several different ideas, I ended up with a lovely meal.

That's another of the wonders of - you can play with the ingredients. Some of the commenters even help you with that, by leaving suggested substitutions in their comments. That's how I took a so-so peanut butter fudge recipe and made it WOW.

Hell, you can even play with the amount you want to make. Found a recipe that serves four, but you've got dinner for six fast approaching? Just change the serving # and it recalculates all the ingredients for you.

Ever have leftovers you don't know what to do with? Try typing it into the search box. A search for leftover chicken gave me 230 meals to chose from. Don't know what sounds good for breakfast? Browse through theirBreakfast and Brunch recipes.

All in all, a worthwhile site if you're looking for some good cooking ideas. I do have one caveat, though. Cook at your own risk. A couple of times, I followed the recipe I found at AllRecipes to the letter, but the result wasn't satisfactory. (The last was a 'easy pancake' recipe I found several years ago, and it was gross, but I wasn't half the cook then that I am now, so it might've been my fault.) Nowadays, I make sure I read the comments, and if several people say the same thing, I usually pass on to the next recipe.

As always, your mileage may vary.

BTW, today's I'm baking a creation of my own I'm calling Strawberry Cheesecake with Chocolate Graham Crust. We'll see how it turns out, and if it's any good, I'll try to write the recipe down for you. (If I can remember what all I put in there. Sometimes I cook by taste rather than by measure.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Weekly Update

I didn't get much measurable stuff done this past week. Only about 2000 words written on EQ and one short chapter rewritten for Nano.

Despite the puny progress, though, I feel like I accomplished a lot. I finally got off my ever-widening ass (EWA) and started querying again. Hence, yesterday's marathon synopsizing. As much as I hate doing it, I'm glad I did. Re-reading the Cliff's Notes version of my story makes me even more convinced it deserves to be published. No plot holes, no plot flaws, and the story is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

And that one short chapter I rewrote in Nano? Well, that sucker has been giving me fits since I wrote it, but I think I finally have a version I can be proud of. The first chapter has to shine, and I think this one sparkles. I almost chopped it entirely to avoid the work, but since it ties in later and the thread is crucial, I forced myself to attack it with a red pen. The whole book will be much better for it (if I ever get the rest of the book finished, that is).

On the personal front, I started exercising again - which my EWA is grateful for. My daughter and I also refocused on the school front. This week she's taking a series of pre-ACT tests to see where she needs improvement over the next year, and to see what knowledge arts she's already got stored in her grey matter. With everything she needs to have under her belt before she starts college, we can't afford to waste time going over things she already knows. Ya know?

I also did a full-on cleaning of this house. It wasn't a pig-sty, but the dust bunnies were driving me insane. I killed them for now, but you know how dust bunnies tend to breed when you aren't looking. Still, my house is temporarily free of the little bastards, so I'm counting that as a win.

Anything to report on your end of the world? Always celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. =o)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Whittling Words

If you've ever written a synopsis, you know how hard they can be. Try to cram 100K words worth of story into 6-10 pages, while still keeping your voice and making it interesting. It ain't easy, lemme tell ya.

Then take your 6 page synopsis and whittle it down to 2 pages. Now there's some mental exertion for ya. Well, that's what I spent a large portion of time doing today. Snip here, slash there, and always tweak tweak tweak. Ugh. Anyway, it's done. Or at least I think it is. I'll take another look at it tomorrow to make sure it doesn't blow chunks before I send it off with a query to the one agent on my list who asks for such a short synopsis up front.


Gotta do it if I want to win. If I have to turn my book into a friggin' haiku because it's in someone's submission requirements, I'll do it.

On the bright side, now I have it if anyone else asks for a 1-2 pager.

No wonder people call these things a sucknopsis. Sheesh.

What were you up to this fine day? Anything on the agenda for tomorrow? Personally, I'll be looking the synopsis over and then shooting off the query. Then I've got some school stuff and personal stuff before I hit the keys again tomorrow night.

Right now, I'm done hitting the keys, so I think I'll hit the sack. Nighters.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


No, not the old Yes song - that's entirely too depressing. I'm talking about making changes in your own life. Hey, life's all about change, right? It all depends on whether we embrace change or hide from it.

I admit it, I'm not a huge one for change. I like things how I like them, and that's that. To use one of my husband's euphemism's, I like to know where my water dish is at. (If you've ever had a pet, you know they don't like it when you move their dishes.) I guess it has to do with my past more than anything - with some major help from my mother.

The first eighteen years of my life were pretty unchanging. We lived in the same house, I went to the same school, I knew all the same people. Hell, I even had the same dog for a majority of that time. Looking at that, it's easy to see why change and I don't get along. If you add in all the change that's occurred since I turned 18, you see another set of reasons why I might not be so open to it.

College is change. Becoming a single mother was a major life change. And then there was my car accident - which changed things in ways I never would've imagined (even now, I'm seeing the long-term results of that sucker). I've been through relationship changes and residence changes too numerous to mention. Now I can feel myself just wanting for everything to remain the same.

I don't want change in my life anymore. I'm content just staying in my little hermitage and allowing life to move on around me.

But life doesn't work that way. Change is a necessary part of existence. You either change or you stagnate. If I had opted against change five years ago, I'd still be living in Utah - single and unhappy. I'd be working an unsatisfying job and dreaming of being a writer instead of actually writing.

There's an old quote I was reminded of yesterday: If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten. I think it came to mind after reading Dr. Hurd's Daily Dose of Reason - specifically Sunday's post called The Road to Insanity and Back - wherein he reminds readers of another quote: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over while still expecting different results." Or maybe it came to mind after reading Kristen Painter's post yesterday at The Fictionistas called The Power of Change. Maybe it's just that change seems to be in the air. It is Spring after all.

Anyway, I think I see the point. I've been falling into my old habits, and refusing to accept the necessary changes life demands. I made the decision last night to try and break free. I need to make some changes, even if they're small ones.

Starting with getting into the habit of exercising. While I've been sitting on my ever-widening butt avoiding change, my body has been slowly changing on its own. You know you need a change when none of your pants fit. (Except for sweat pants, and... well... yuck, who wants to wear those in public.)

I also recognized that I need to change my approach to this writing career. I need to take myself and my writing more seriously, or no one else is going to. I need to make a schedule and stick to it - no matter what might be on TV or whether I feel like it.

How's your relationship with change? Is it something you like, or something you look forward to like a root canal? Think about your own situation. Is there some change you need to make to enhance your life?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Picture Pages, Picture Pages

Heh, remember Bill Cosby's Picture Pages? If you do, let me know where that came from. I was thinking Sesame Street, but now I'm not so sure. It certainly was too young a segment for Fat Albert.

Anyway, I got caught up in the 3 hour finale of Biggest Loser. Total disappointment, but only because I thought Helen was a fake and a backstabber. Regardless of the outcome, it kinda shot my night for working. =op

In lieu of anything writerly to give you, I'll just leave y'all with another photo. This one is from 2001 when I was still living in Michigan. I stopped somewhere along Lake St. Clair while I was on my way to an appointment, and this is one of the pictures I took...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Life Intrudes

Busy with life today. Should be back tomorrow. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Seriously. How are things in your corner of the universe?

Oh, and here's a pretty picture... Just because.

Ethereal, huh? It was taken at Antelope Island in Utah, back in 2003 (I think).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Super Site and Book Review

As a result of yesterday's laziness, today I'm giving you a twofer.

If you're a bloghound and a writer, you may have already visited the blog of Paperback Writer. I first visited when I was new to the blogosphere and searching for some good blogs to gather info on the writing business. I couldn't have been luckier to stumble across PBW.

First off, PBW is none other than the author Lynn Viehl (aka S.L. Viehl - and maybe a couple other pseudonyms). As it states in her blog header, she's been writing professionally since 1998 and from her sidebar, she's published 42 novels in 5 genres. That alone gives me a little bit of a writer crush on the woman. When you're looking for knowledge, the proof is in the putting, and 42 novels is a lot of putting.

Beyond that, though, are the words in blog. After reading just a couple of her posts, I knew I liked this gal. She's got guts. She's not afraid to speak her mind - about the industry, other writers... and don't get her started on writing organizations. She also puts a lot of effort into helping her fellow writers. And she's got a wicked sense of humor.

Add in that Lynn cranks out novels and free shorts and novellas and cute blog stories (not to mention making quilts and bookmarks and other crafty things) while battling rheumatoid arthritis, and she just might qualify for god status. Except I have a feeling Lynn would turn down the job. I think if you asked, she'd tell you she's just a woman working at her job to the best of her abilities.)

And if all that wasn't enough to convince me, I read her books. Talk about proof. This gal knows what she's talking about. Wow. The characters sneak into your heart and your head, making you wish they were real so you could buy them a drink. Her ability to describe the scene - whether it be distant planets and starships like in her StarDoc series or a brand new version of bloodsuckers in her Darkyn novels - makes me feel like I'm right there with those characters. I'm in the process of working through her backlist because I inhaled all her new books and I want more.

I bet you were wondering when I was going to get to today's Book Review. Well, since it's hard to segue into a different author after that build up, I'm not going to bother. So far I've only read a few of two of the series Lynn's written. She's got a ton of other books I haven't touched yet. Still, after reading a few of the StarDoc and all of the Darkyn series, I can offer both series for recommendation.

The StarDoc series is totally SF while the Darkyn series is paranormal romance. Whether you're a fan of either genre, you should probably take a peek*. As I said earlier, both series are filled with incredible characterization and well-written description. More than that, though, these books also have gripping plots that'll keep you reading into the wee hours of the morning if you aren't careful.

Unfortunately, most of the StarDoc novels are hard to find. (I think they just re-released the first one because I bought it new at Barnes and Noble, but I couldn't find any of the backlist at Borders.) If nothing else, order them online. Or if you're strapped for cash, check out the free downloads at PBW.

Whatever you do, Lynn Viehl is seriously worth reading.

(*A word of caution about the Darkyn books - they're pretty racy and a little raw in places, so read at your own risk. I flip past the parts that are too much for me. YMMV.)

Friday, May 8, 2009

It's a Beautiful Mornin'

:sings: It's a beautiful mornin'. I think I'll go outside for a while...

Nothing really to update on this week. I only got about a thousand words out, and I haven't queried at all. Like I said, it was a bad week. However, today we have a lovely day to end this week from hell. So, as my mother always said, I need to blow the stink off myself. It's been a while since I went driving in the countryside, and that's exactly what I need - a good meander. We'll be loading ourselves into the car as soon as Darling Daughter gets herself presentable. Then off we go.

Like most drives out into the country, we probably won't travel more than ten miles from home, but we'll cover several times that as we criss-cross the dirt roads. We'll see horses and birds and more cows than you can imagine (unless you're from cow country yourself).

We're taking the camera. I might post pictures if anything looks good after I download.

Have a beautiful day wherever you are.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bad Week

Despite my hopes to remain more positive on the blog, I haven't been the most positive person this week. Monday's rant and Tuesday's venting were part and parcel of what I'm just going to admit is a bad week for me.

First off, my friend died. Then I noticed that his memorial service was smack on the anniversary of my Dad's death. Yeah, take a sucky thing and make it worse.

These past couple years May 6th hasn't been as hard as it was initially. I figured I was finally getting to a point where the pain wasn't so sharp, and I could finally get through a 5/6 without falling apart. Until yesterday.

At the memorial service, I was pretty good until they recited the 23rd psalm. It was always Dad's favorite. I made it through "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" before the tears started. And there I am in the front row of my friend's memorial, trying not to sob like a child. The tears weren't for my friend, although he deserves them, so I choked them down. Then I was doing pretty good until they presented the flag to his widow, and I saw the tears streaming down her face. All I could picture was the flag presentation for my father.

Anyway, yesterday was pretty much a wash. After the memorial service and the luncheon, I was an emotional dishrag. I spent the rest of the day on the couch watching crap TV, until late last night when I finally dragged myself to this chair. I wrote 350 words. They weren't good words, but they were words - and they added a new plot path I wasn't expecting. Here's hoping they were enough of a setup that I can sit down tonight and crank some scenes out.

Oh, and I decided to go back to my original beginning on EQ. I'll fix it later. So despite this being a bad week for me, I'm forging ahead. Sometimes that's all you can do - unless you prefer to wallow on the couch watching crap TV. (Which has its purposes, but shouldn't become a lifestyle. Ya know?)

Like the immortal Lombardi says: The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.

Ever had a time when you had every reason to wallow on the couch, but you worked anyway?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I'm at a frustrating point in my writing. I've started EQ a couple times now, and it's just not coming together. Nano is giving me fits. I want to beat my head on my desk for a few days until what's in there either falls into place or I fall unconscious.

Last night I sat on the couch with my trusty notepad and red pen, and I tried to write my way out of this thing with EQ. I know what I want to say, but I'm not sure how to get there. I'm almost convinced to just go back to the original 3500 words and work from there - even though I know that's not right either. Then at least I'd be getting something accomplished.

With Nano, I think I just need to completely rewrite the beginning. I did it once already, and I thought I had it, but after I plugged in the changes, it was... well... yuck.

And then, when I was wallowing in my own frustration - trying to make myself work when watching TV was so much easier - I wondered why the hell I'm busting my ass on something I'm not seeing any rewards for. Seriously. Then laziness and frustration ganged up and whispered in my ear that I can always rest now and kill myself after I get an agent. It almost worked, too. Even now I can feel the couch cushions calling my name.


I think I just need to wade back into either EQ or Fertile Ground, and get the damn things written. I need to keep pushing Blink until something breaks. I need to finish Nano, and while I'm at it, I should probably get off my ever-widening ass and finish editing AWJ (from two years ago), or finish writing C&D. I can make this writing thing pay off. I will make it pay off, dammit.

:end vent:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Random Rants and Other Stuff

I was standing outside just now, smoking a cigarette and talking on the phone with my mother, when a car drove by, and the woman driving shot me a dirty look. She wasn't even someone I know. Just a random bit of snottiness for Monday morning. Mom and I couldn't decide if she had a problem with my smoking, or my talking on the phone outside, or a combination of the circumstances. Maybe she's just one of those people with a perpetual snide look on her face. Poor thing. :shrug:

Time for me to rant again about the approaching deafness of a large percentage of the populous. I swear. And I don't know what it is about this particular street, but the majority of the noise offenders are Hispanic. I know the ratio of loud cars with Hispanic drivers is way higher than the ratio of Hispanic to Caucasian people in this town. Could be the culture. Maybe it's just louder in their lives than in other sections of the population. If my theory that people use loud music to drown out the suckiness of their lives is true, then maybe that would be an interesting socialogical study. Based on the number of new cars cruising my street and blaring loud music, I'd say not, but it does bear further study. (I just wish I could drown the music out and still hear the TV.)

As an aside, is it just me, or does most Hispanic music sound like polka? I keep catching myself singing Roll Out The Barrel during the peak cruising times. Must be something about the accordians.

Speaking of the growing Hispanic populous here... I'm wondering if that nasty ass flu I had in March was of the Swine variety. If it's coming up out of Mexico, I wouldn't be surprised if we all had the H1N1. You know, I'd never seen a Mexican license plate until I moved here. Now I see them all the time. (BTW, if you're wondering about Swine Flu, please check out the CDC's Fact Sheet. A lot of misinformation is flying around, and knowledge is power.)

Well, it's the month of May. For me this means a few things. This week brings the 7th anniversary of my father's death (and my friend's memorial service just happens to fall on the same day - damn it all). Sunday is Mother's Day - post office don't fail me now, since I still haven't bought the card much less mailed it. Later in the month I'll be celebrating the last birthday I'll ever have (i.e. #39 - LOL) and also my wedding anniversary. My cat will turn six on the 8th, and my brother will see his birthday this month as well.

Big doings all around. I'd really like to see myself get Nano done this month, but it's giving me fits. And while I'm wishing, maybe that full will turn into an offer of representation this month.

Your turn: Got anything to rant about? What lies ahead for your lusty month of May?

Crap! I just spilled coffee all over the place. Gah!


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Book Review

Since I still haven't been reading new books (our local grocery store still hasn't found a new distributor - damn them - and I haven't been out of town in weeks), I'm reading through some of the titles in my store I never took the chance to read. Hence, this week's book: Grave Secrets by Kathy Reichs.

I've been a semi-fan of the TV show Bones for a while now. (I say semi because I only catch it in reruns when I'm not doing anything else at 4pm.) I love Temperance Brennan. She's my kind of gal. The other day I was finally paying attention to the opening credits and happened to see that the show was based on the novels of Kathy Reichs. Enter little light bulb over my head. I had one of her books in my store, and damned if it wasn't one of her Temperance Brennan novels. As soon as I finished the latest Dresden Files, I pulled Grave Secrets off the shelves and dug right in.

In no time at all, I could see the TV show was only loosely based on the novels. For a second I was disappointed. On TV, they give viewers a younger woman. They also give a more concrete bound version of the character. I'm a fan of no-nonsense, 'just the facts' characters. The Temperance in the books isn't quite the gal I fell for on the television.

Tempe (instead of Bones) is similar to her on-screen persona, but not. She's a different type of person. Not worse, per se, just different. Keeping this in mind, I forged ahead. Of course, Reichs made it easier for me to make the break from Bones to Tempe - in part because the nicknames are different, but also because none of the secondary characters from the TV show are in the book. (Maybe they're in other novels of this series.) No Angela. No Zach. No Hodgins.

All in all, I enjoyed the novel. Reichs writes well, and she layered in just enough twists and turns to keep me reading. The setting for Grave Secrets moves from Guatemala to Canada and Reichs described enough to make me feel like I was there, without getting bogged down in the description. She made a character I could like - even despite the differences - and one I could sympathize with.

The only detractor for me were the few scenes with lots of dialogue and no tags. I know, I know... writers aren't supposed to use too many tags. I get it. The problem comes when the conversation is flowing so fast I can't tell who's talking. I hate having to go back and figure out who said what from the content. What can I say, I'm lazy that way. Throw in a 'Ryan said' or a even a 'she said' every now and then. It won't kill the flow, and it'll help out the losers like me who need help reading your novel.

So, if you haven't tried the Temperance Brennan novels - whether you're a fan of Bones or not - give them a whirl. If you're into suspense/thriller, you might be pleasantly surprised. I know I was.

Ever watch a show based on a book, and then read the book? What was your reaction to the differences? Personally, I have a problem with movies based on books I've already read, but I have an easier time when it's in reverse. (i.e. I watched the movie and then read the book - like Jurassic Park.)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday's Super Site

On the weekends one of my favorite non-writing activities is to look at properties. I like seeing what's on the market and dreaming of the day when we can buy a home in the country with some land. And maybe a little lake.

Today's Super Site has to do with that. It's the site for United Country - a nationwide realtor.

UC is searchable several key ways. Looking for ten acres anywhere in the US? Use their national search. Looking for a waterfront property in the Southeast? Try their regional search. Personally, I like browsing rather than searching, and since I already know the areas we'd like to retire to, I can either use their 'By State' search to see what's available in the area or their 'By Office' search to see what each little town has to offer.

But this site is really more than just a place to dream. Think about it terms of setting for your book.

Everyone says write what you know. Well, how does a person who's never been to Texas really know what's there? I guess following the 'Write what you know' advice, that entire state would be out of the running for locale. Unless...

Let's say you want part of your story to be in Nacogdoches. Maybe that's where your heroine grew up before moving to the big city or joining the FBI or whatever. You want your background or flashbacks to be as real as possible, so you click through to the office and you set about finding the house she grew up in. Say, for instance, it was a 347 acre cattle ranch. You find the property, click the link and you've not only got a bit of description, but you've got pictures (and in this case a virtual tour). Now you can see the wood beams over the fireplace - complete with deer antler chandelier. You can picture her as a young girl wandering the open fields, or splashing around in the pond.

Maybe you need to get a better idea of the inside of an old victorian mansion - without having to pester someone for a tour. Use the Nationwide search, filter to show residential, then to show homes in town, then finally to show Victorian. You've got 198 properties to look at, and from them build a house your characters would be proud to live in. (If only I had $1.3 million to buy this beauty.) Or maybe you just need to see what a piece of land in the southwest would look like. Scout out 15K acres in NM or 435 acres in CO. Travel via the internet.

Of course there are plenty of other real estate sites to use as research, but this one seems to be the most comprehensive and the easiest to navigate. Use it in combination with Google Maps or Google Earth and you'll really feel like you were there.

Now, where do I want to go today? Eureka Springs, AR or a tour around Bulls Shoals Lake? Where do you want to go?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Weekly Update

Not much to report on this week. After jumping full steam into writing a new book, I decided that even though the book was streaming out of my fingers, I wasn't sure I liked where it was headed. For an Adult/YA crossover, it was sounding way too YA and I'm not sure if I want my career to head in that direction. Plus, thinking back over the words I wrote, I don't think it's as much my voice as the voice of every other YA writer I've ever read. Back to the drawing board on that one.

I did finish the red ink edits on Nano over this past weekend. It really doesn't have as many flaws as I thought it did. I just needed to pull most of the scenes with villain #1's POV. In the entire first half of the book those scenes need to be rewritten. He just wasn't ringing true. Once I slashed through those, the editing got loads easier. Now I think this book really has a shot at being published - once I get everything rewritten, of course.

Sent a couple more queries out, and received a couple more rejections. Those stung a bit because I was sure they'd request pages. :shrug: After the first two replies were requests, I might've gotten my hopes up too much. Oh well. Onward to the next round. I tweaked my letter again - using the version that got me the partial request instead of the one that netted me the full. All we can do is the best we can do, and hope from there.

The week ahead will be working on entering edits, working on new words, and querying. And if the weather gets nice again, maybe I'll get some exercise in there somewhere.

What's on your plate for the coming week?